All of us have read the wonderful fantasy Alice in Wonderland. The characters
in the story remark about strangeness and reality and engage in human
parodies that in many cases are unmistakable and yet are surreal. There
are also characters that perhaps many of us can relate to in a variety
of ways. As new information has become available in cosmology, new
theories have been advanced to attempt to explain the new data. Like
Alice in Wonderland, cats show up in cosmological and quantum mechanics
models. Words like "strange" and "strangeness" become commonplace
descriptions. The phrase that "things are not as they appear" is a
constant mantra. The problem with much of what is happening in
cosmology today is that it is nearing the edge of science and has
become a fringe of science instead of a valid scientific pursuit.
Atheists have a major interest in this discussion, because one of the
strong arguments for the existence of God is the mystery of creation
itself. If there is a way to exclude God from the process, atheists
will be quick to jump on that bandwagon. Understanding what is
happening and seeing how powerfully the new discoveries connect to
faith in God as the creator is an important area of study.
Thanks to Albert Einstein, we have a new view of reality. We now know that the nature of space and time is not that they are separate and distinct quantities, but that they are part of the same thing. Space can be curved by gravity, or more accurately, gravity is a function of the curvature of space. We can see light following the curvature of space around large masses, and we can see a planet on the other side of the Sun before it actually emerges from that location. Einstein's work did not invalidate the work of Isaac Newton, but it improves it and gives us a better understanding of the cosmos. The same equations work and the same predictions can be made, but some things Newton could not describe or explain can be explained by Einstein's work. This is strange and challenging, but it is good science. It is testable, falsifiable, practical, and useful. It also gives us a better understanding of the process of creation. If you believe that God is the creator, then you have to realize that God did not just create an Alice in Wonderland fairyland. The creation of reality means the creation of space/time and thus the creation of space and of time. That is why the Bible speaks of God doing things before time and after time (see John 1:1-5; 1 Corinthians 2:7; and Colossians 1:16-17).
Atheists are desperate to have an alternative to what has just been said. The existence of space/time cannot be denied, and the fact that matter and energy exist also cannot be rationally denied. Einstein has also allowed us to understand that mass is just a concentrated form of energy, and all of us know about E=mc² and have had it vividly demonstrated to us in the atomic bomb. We now understand that ultimately all matter returns to the energy from which it came. Even protons are now known to decay back into energy. We also know that the old physical laws of classical physics still apply, even if in a somewhat modified form. The second law of thermodynamics, for example, still describes the fact that in a closed system energy gradually changes into entropy--a measure of the disorder of matter. Things age--from galaxies to stars to planets to people to protons. Gases diffuse, osmosis happens, refrigeration works--all in conformity to the laws of thermodynamics.
Those of us who believe in God see the wisdom in all of this. As we come to better understandings of science and how things work we realize that there is a reason why God did what He did. We also find numerous scriptures which seem to demonstrate an awareness of all of this. The concept of entropy and the second law fit well with descriptions of the cosmos wearing out like an old garment (Isaiah 51:6). The understandings of the initial formation of space, time, and energy fit well with the simple statement of Genesis 1:1. The fact that matter ultimately dissolves into the energy from which it came fits well with Peter's discussion that there will be an end to time and that the elements will dissolve at that point (2 Peter 3:10). The Bible also describes beautifully what modern cosmology has told us about how space is distributed and moves. Over and over the Bible talks about God "stretching out the heaven" (see Isaiah 40:22; 44:24; 45:12; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1). In the past century science has shown clearly that the cosmos is expanding, and that it is in fact accelerating in that expansion. The expanding universe is not only a vivid proof that there was a beginning to space/time and energy, but also that its motion has been clearly defined and can be observed--even if all the mechanisms are not understood.
We not only see that the biblical description is accurate, but we also see that there are reasons for what has been done. In recent years it has been shown that where we are located in the galaxy is important to our long term survival. We exist in what science now calls a galactic habitable zone, a place in the galaxy where stability is possible over the long term. It is a small part of the galactic system--the fruit of the design of a galaxy. You do not eat the whole tree to get the value of the fruit, and the rest of the galaxy provides the stable platform in which our solar system exists. The type of star we orbit, and the existence of Jovian planets which protect us from the debris of space are also variables which show purpose, planning, and intelligence. Mechanistic explanations of the creation have to deal with the fact that our planetary position is unique, and that the uniqueness is vital for us to exist.
As atheists have attempted to deal with all of this new data and the implications of the data, some interesting approaches have been brought forth. Some atheists (like the famous philosopher Antony Flew) have essentially thrown in the towel and said that there has to be an intelligence behind it all, but it cannot be a personal God. The reasons for denying a personal God have nothing to do with science, but involve theological issues like the existence of evil, pain, and want.
Other atheists have attempted to find scientific theories that could preclude the existence of God and have some sense of scientific support. One way of doing this has been to propose that there are parallel universes. The idea is that many accidents happen in the infinity of space and the infinity of time, and ours just happens to be one with the conditions needed for carbon-based life. There are so many problems with an explanation like this, that it is hard to know where to start. If the common notion that has permeated science for the last century that space and time came into existence in a singularity is accepted, the proposing of multiple existences of space and multiple starts to time violates all of our common definitions of both. If you can somehow wrap your mind around multiple space and multiple time, it is fairly obvious that these other universes would be completely isolated from us and would have no interaction with us. You can pretend to understand how there can be two times at one place in space at the same time, but in reality that is not a concept that can be communicated adequately, and which rational people will believe. It is a faith statement--untested, untestable, and unfalsifiable.
Another approach has been to propose causal agents apart from God that cause everything we see and experience. String theory has been a popular proposal in recent years. In this theory, strings of space/time, which are eleven-dimensional entities, collide and produce lower dimensional quantities of which we are an example. This proposal makes Alice in Wonderland look like a first-grade science reader. It is true that we can conduct certain experiments that show us that there are dimensions other than the x, y, and z quantities that we are familiar with. Tachyons fit many of the descriptions of higher dimensions, and their properties and by-products are studied in nuclear chemistry and physics. Mathematical descriptions can be given of quantities that are beyond our physical world, but having a description in mathematics does not mean that the description is true or that the math applies to the dimension in which it is being used. What we have is a proposal that is outside of any scientific test, experiment, or observation. You can believe it as a religious belief if you choose, but you cannot hold it up as a scientifically factual description. The old statement from Alice in Wonderland that went something like "I have believed as many as five impossible things before breakfast" is the mantra of such a belief system.
Please understand that we are not saying that such thoughts and proposals should not be entertained or carried on. Science frequently can be understood as man coming to an understanding of how God did something, and sometimes wonderful discoveries are made while investigating something that seems very esoteric and strange. Einstein's work would never have happened if scientists were not willing to venture into new approaches to things. The fact is, however, that Einstein's initial investigation began from observed data. The Michelson/Morely experiment in which light was observed to have a speed that was independent of the motion of the observer, was the beginning clue that started Einstein on his intellectual journey. Good science begins with observations and experimental data, not a desire to disprove someone's religious belief. The lesson of history is that as new scientific discoveries are made, they enlarge and enhance our understandings of God and his power, wisdom, and intelligence in all He has done. "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork" has a whole new significance, meaning, and wonder with what man has discovered in the twenty-first century.
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Does God Exist?, MarApr07.